Quote of the Week: ““No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” – Albert Einstein [H/t H. Sterling Burnett]
Number of the Week: From 55% to 34% with no change in gross amount.
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
July Summary: Discussed in the previous three TWTWs, Richard Lindzen’s paper, “An oversimplified picture of the climate behavior based on a single process can lead to distorted conclusions,” contained nothing new, but provided an excellent basis for understanding what we know with reasonable certainty, what we suspect, and what we know is incorrect about climate change, the greenhouse effect, temperature trends, climate modeling, ocean chemistry, and sea level rise. Describing this knowledge, or lack thereof, will probably take two or three installments to complete in TWTW, but it may be a valuable reference in the future that can be modified as needed.
The guiding principle is expressed by Einstein in the quotation above and amplified by Feynman in his lectures. Test hypotheses against all relevant physical data, experimental and observational. If the hypothesis is wrong, its wrong. But you cannot prove it right.
Unfortunately, scientists in a number of organizations, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, confuse hypothesis testing with cherry picking – the selection of data that supports the hypothesis, ignoring the rest. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its followers use this erroneous procedure by ignoring forty years of atmospheric temperature trends which show that whatever greenhouse gas warming is occurring is not dangerous.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) has many roles in life on this planet. It is vital that any government policy in curtailing human emissions of CO2 be based on full recognition of these roles and their relative importance. These roles include photosynthesis and the greenhouse effect. Both can influence climate. TWTW will attempt to discuss these roles as objectively as possible.
As stated in the June 27 TWTW, Lindzen wrote:
“The ‘consensus’ assessment of this system is today the following:
“In this complex multifactor system, the climate (which, itself, consists in many variables – especially the temperature difference between the equator and the poles) is described by just one variable, the global averaged temperature change, and is controlled by the 1—2% perturbation [deviation] in the energy budget due to a single variable (any single variable) among many variables of comparable importance. We go further and designate CO2 as the sole control. Although we are not sure of the budget for this variable, we know precisely what policies to implement in order to control it.
“How did such a naïve seeming picture come to be accepted, not just by the proponents of the issue, but also by most skeptics?” To which the paper adds: “After all, we spend much of our effort arguing about global temperature records, climate sensitivity, etc. In brief, we are guided by this line of thought.”
Lindzen thinks the focusing on CO2 is not productive in addressing climate change and needs to be corrected. He reviews what is generally accepted about the climate system stating [edited from the original with direct quotations in italics]:
- The core of the system consists in two turbulent fluids (the atmosphere and oceans) interacting with each other.
- The two fluids are on a rotating planet that is differentially [unevenly] heated by the sun and unevenly absorbing the solar warming. Solar rays directly hit the equator and skim the earth at the poles resulting in uneven heating, which drives the circulation of the atmosphere. The result is heat transport from the equator towards the poles (meridional).
- The earth’s climate system is never in equilibrium. [Boldface added]
- In addition to the oceans, the atmosphere is interacting with a hugely irregular land surface distorting the airflow, causing planetary scale waves, which are generally not accurately described in climate models.
- A vital component of the atmosphere is water in its liquid, solid, and vapor phases, and the changes in phases have immense dynamic consequences. Each phase affects incoming and outgoing radiation differently. Substantial heat is released when water vapor condenses, driving thunder clouds. Further, clouds consist of water in the form of fine droplets and ice crystals. Normally, these are suspended by rising air currents, but when these grow large enough, they fall as rain and snow. The energies involved in phase changes are important, as well as the fact that both water vapor and clouds strongly affect radiation.
“The two most important greenhouse substances by far are water vapor and clouds. Clouds are also important reflectors of sunlight. These matters are discussed in detail in the IPCC WG1 reports, each of which openly acknowledge clouds as major sources of uncertainty in climate modeling.” [Boldface added]
[However, the IPCC Summaries to Policymakers largely ignore these uncertainties.]
- “The energy budget of this system involves the absorption and reemission of about 240 W/m2 [Watts per square meter]. Doubling CO2 involves a perturbation [deviation] a bit less than 2% to this budget (4 W/m2) So do changes in clouds and other features, and such changes are common. The earth receives about 340 W/m2 from the sun, but about 100 W/m2 is simply reflected back to space by both the earth’s surface and, more importantly, by clouds. This would leave about 240 W/m2 that the earth would have to emit in order to establish balance. The sun radiates in the visible portion of the radiation spectrum because its temperature is about 6000 K. If the Earth had no atmosphere at all (but for purposes of argument still was reflecting 100 W/m2), it would have to radiate at a temperature of about 255 K, and, at this temperature, the radiation is mostly in the infrared.”
The oceans and the atmosphere introduce a host of complications including evaporation creating water vapor which strongly absorbs and emits radiation in the infrared.
“The water vapor essentially blocks infrared radiation from leaving the surface, causing the surface and (via conduction) the air adjacent to the surface to heat, and convection sets in. The combination of the radiative and the convective processes results in decreasing temperature with height [lapse rate]. To make matters more complicated, the amount of water vapor that the air can hold decreases rapidly as the temperature decreases. Above some height there is so little water vapor remaining that radiation from this level can now escape to space. It is at this elevated level (around 5 km) that the temperature must be about 255 K in order to balance incoming radiation. However, because the temperature decreases with height, the surface of the Earth now has to actually be warmer than 255 K. It turns out that it has to be about 288 K (which is indeed the average temperature of the earth’s surface). The addition of other greenhouse gases (like CO2) increases further the emission level and causes an additional increase of the ground temperature. Doubling CO2 is estimated to be equivalent to a forcing of about 4W/m2 which is a little less than 2% of the net incoming 240 W/m2.
“The situation can actually be more complicated if upper-level cirrus clouds are present. They are very strong absorbers and emitters of infrared radiation and effectively block infrared radiation from below. Thus, when such clouds are present above about 5 km, their tops, rather than 5 km determine the emission level. This makes the ground temperature (i.e., the greenhouse effect) dependent on the cloud coverage.
“Many factors, including fluctuations of average cloud area and height, snow cover, ocean circulations, etc. commonly cause changes to the radiative budget comparable to that of doubling of CO2. For example, the net global mean cloud radiative effect is of the order of − 20 W/m2 (cooling effect). A 4 W/m2 forcing, from a doubling of CO2, therefore corresponds to only a 20% change in the net cloud effect. [Boldface added]
- It is important to note that such a system will fluctuate with timescales ranging from seconds to millennia even in the absence of explicit forcing other than a steady sun. Much of the popular literature (on both sides of the climate debate) assumes that all changes must be driven by some external factor.
Even if the solar forcing were constant, the climate would vary. With the massive size of the oceans, such variations can involve timescales of millennia. Lindzen mentions the El Niño Southern Oscillation, which has a relatively short cycle, but for which we do not have a sufficiently long instrumental record to understand. The earth has other natural changes or oscillations that are not fully understood. The solar sunspot cycle lasts about 11 years, imperfectly.
“Restricting ourselves to matters that are totally uncontroversial does mean that the above description is not entirely complete, but it does show the heterogeneity, the numerous degrees of freedom, and the numerous sources of variability of the climate system.”
After this review of the complexity of the climate system, Lindzen follows with the simplistic “consensus” assessment stated above.
It is important to note that the enormous complexity discussed above may take a thousand years to uncover. Further, these complexities that are internal to the earth do not include the complexities added by a changing sun, orbital changes of the Milankovitch cycles taking thousands of years, and changing intensity of high-energy cosmic rays hitting the globe as the solar system moves through the galaxy as suggested by the Svensmark Hypothesis, taking millions of years.
The next TWTW will continue with a summary of what we know with reasonable certainty about adding CO2 to the atmosphere. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy (Lindzen’s article not paywalled) and Article # 2 on earlier 20th century scientific beliefs about Mars.
Do Not Exaggerate: Writing in Master Resource, Robert Bradley brings up a 2009 article by Andrew Revkin, then a New York Times journalist. Though he did not agree with Revkin’s views about climate change, Fred Singer, the late SEPP Chairman, respected Revkin. Bradley’s essay demonstrates why. As the title of the article states: “In Climate Debate, Exaggeration Is a Pitfall.”
Unfortunately, far too many writers and scientists have failed to heed this advice. The result is ignoring other views no matter how well founded they may be. See links under Communicating Better to the Public – Exaggerate, or be Vague?
Setting Out To Deceive: One of the more disturbing false claims of CO2 alarmists is that human CO2 emissions are making the oceans acidic. As stated in the June 13 TWTW, Jim Steele wrote that the term was deliberately chosen by Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science to shock the public, to exaggerate the influence of carbon dioxide. Calderia was a lead author of the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC (AR5, 2013 & 2014).
On July 9, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research issued a news release stating:
“’Our study highlights the urgent need for interdisciplinary, cross-sector research to understand and prepare for challenges linking ocean acidification with [human] social development under climate change…”
According to Phys.org which carries many articles on so-called ocean acidification:
Ocean acidification is the name given to the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth’s oceans, caused by their uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.179 to 8.104 (a change of -0.075).
This change is a modest decrease in alkalinity, not acidification.
The extent of the deliberate effort to deceive is clear when one realizes that the concept of pH was first proposed by a Danish chemist Søren Sørensen in 1909 and was revised in 1924. Yet, today organizations claiming to be scientific are claiming that ocean-wide pH is known to an accuracy of ± 0.001 as early as 1751? Further, the stated change of -0.075 is less than what can occur seasonally in areas with upwelling, such as the coast of the Pacific Northwest.
See links under Acidic Waters, https://phys.org/tags/ocean+acidification/ and
A Good Proxy? Statistician Steve McIntyre, who with Ross McKitrick broke Mr. Mann’s hockey-stick, has a post on what may be a good proxy of temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula back through the Holocene. This analysis is important because it appears that the IPCC and its followers are trying to re-create another hockey-stick to justify the inflated results of their models. All this is part of an effort to “shock” the public in demanding “action” on climate change, even though CO2 is a bit player.
“The LGM [Last Glacial Maximum] (not dated here) is very cold. The highest values of the series are in the Early Holocene (12.5-10 ka BP). Values from ~9000 BP to 3000 BP fluctuated within a relatively narrow range before declining in the late Holocene (after ~4000 BP). The lowest values were reached about 500 BP, more or less contemporary with the NH Little Ice Age [LIA]. Values in the 20th century were higher than in the LIA but are still lower than values through most of the Holocene and considerably lower than the highs in the Early Holocene.”
To the extent that proxies and proxy reconstructions have broader significance in the climate debate, their interest largely arises from the unprecedentedness (or lack thereof) of late 20th century/early 21st century data relative to the past. When IPCC was founded, as much interest attached to the comparison of the modern warm period to the “Holocene Optimum” (or “Holocene Thermal Maximum”) as to the corresponding comparison to the medieval warm period. In the 1990s and, especially since the IPCC Third Assessment (2001) promoted the Mann hockey stick, far more attention has been paid to the medieval comparison, but there is increasing interest in the longer Holocene perspective (Marcott et al 2013; Kaufman 12K (2020).”
It appears there will be another effort by the UN IPCC to create false impressions, no doubt falsely claiming it can “cure” the problem with $100 billion annually into its Green Climate Fund. See links under Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice
New Human Fingerprint: According to an article in Carbon Brief, a new human fingerprint on climate has been discovered. The UN IPCC’s old one has vanished. According to the abstract of the study published in Nature Climate Change:
“The second fingerprint, FM2(x), captures a pronounced interhemispheric temperature contrast associated meridional shifts in the intertropical convergence zone and correlated anomalies in precipitation and aridity over California the Sahel and India.”
The intertropical convergence zone has been shifting since long before humanity existed, much less when humanity started using fossil fuels. The question is why it shifts? The 2008 NIPCC report indicates it may be due to the influence of cosmic rays on clouds, as per the Svensmark Hypothesis. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC and Changing Climate.
Vote for Aprils Fools Award: The voting for the SEPP’s April Fools Award will be continued until July 31. Due to changes in schedules, there are no conferences held before then to announce the results. So, get your votes in now.
Number of the Week: From 55% to 34% with no change in gross amount. Prompted by a post by Paul Homewood, TWTW examined the change in CO2 emissions since the Rio Earth Summit where the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed in 1992.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 1992 Advanced economies (EU, US, & Japan) accounted for 11.3 Gigatons (Gt) of CO2 emissions, 55% of total world-wide emissions, while the Rest of the World accounted for 9.3 Gt., 45% of total emissions. In 2019, Advanced economies accounted for 11.3 Gigatons, no change, but only 34% of the total. The Rest of the World accounted for 22 Gigatons, 66% of the total. Western politicians and journalists who insist the West must do more are ignorant about CO2 emissions.
NEWS YOU CAN USE:
Re-Visiting the Climate Dump
By David Solway, The Pipeline, July 10, 2020 [H/t Climate Depot]
Back To The Dark Ages: British Universities Adopt Communist Censorship Rules
By Staff, The Times, Via GWPF, July 10, 2020
Climate Thought Police Are At the Door
By Robert Bradley Jr. Master Resource, July 6, 2020https://www.masterresource.org/climate-speech-freedom/climate-thought-police-facebook/embed/#?secret=OE6ti8YvTM
“This post merely reproduces the open letter from climate alarmists to Facebook. This action, be assured, is a beginning, not the end. Expect more censorship alongside heavy-handed government intervention in the Malthusian’s last stand.”
The next culture war will be over climate change
By Ross Clark, The Spectator, July 4, 2020
Anti-Fossil Lobbyists Pressure Facebook to Ban Opposing Science
By Larry Bell, Newsmax, July 10, 2020
Facebook Accused of Allowing Climate Deniers to Promote Their Views
By Eric Worrall, WUWT, July 8, 2020https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/07/08/facebook-accused-of-allowing-climate-deniers-to-promote-their-views/embed/#?secret=TBYlVNYAfh
[SEPP Comment: Includes letter to Facebook Oversight Board.]
Suppressing Scientific Inquiry
Climate Activists Step Up Calls for Imprisoning Climate Realists
By Anthony Watts, Climate Realism, July 7, 2020https://climaterealism.com/2020/07/climate-activists-step-up-calls-for-imprisoning-climate-realists/embed/#?secret=4v3UM0FoQp
[SEPP Comment: Imprison all those who don’t believe in science fiction!]
Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science
Idso, Carter, and Singer, Lead Authors/Editors, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), 2013
Idso, Idso, Carter, and Singer, Lead Authors/Editors, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), 2014
Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels
By Multiple Authors, Bezdek, Idso, Legates, and Singer eds., Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, April 2019
Download with no charge:
Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming
The NIPCC Report on the Scientific Consensus
By Craig D. Idso, Robert M. Carter, and S. Fred Singer, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), Nov 23, 2015
Download with no charge:
S. Fred Singer, Editor, NIPCC, 2008
Global Sea-Level Rise: An Evaluation of the Data
By Craig D. Idso, David Legates, and S. Fred Singer, Heartland Policy Brief, May 20, 2019
Challenging the Orthodoxy
An oversimplified picture of the climate behavior based on a single process can lead to distorted conclusions
By Richard S. Lindzen, The European Physical Journal Plus, June 3, 2020
“5 Years To Climate Breakdown”: How To Generate Computer Model Scares
By David Whitehouse, GWPF, July 10, 2020
“Perhaps they could start to be guided by the empirical data and the messages it has been sending us for years; we do not understand natural climatic variability; our models are nowhere near as accurate as some maintain and forecasts of future temperatures more often than not end in ignominy.”
Climate alarmism Versus the Scientific Method
By H. Sterling Burnett, The Heartland Institute, July 9, 2020
Carbon dioxide level unprecedented in 15 MY… More evidence it’s not the climate control knob!
By David Middleton, WUWT, July 10, 2020https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/07/10/carbon-dioxide-level-unprecedented-in-15-my-more-proof-its-not-the-climate-control-knob/embed/#?secret=HIsArKsSoi
Book Review: False Alarm by Bjørn Lomborg
By David Kreutzer, Institute for Energy Research, July 7, 2020 [H/t Cooler Heads]
‘Die Zeit’ Slams Science Dogmatism, The ‘Delusion Of Total Controllability’…’Relapse Into Pre-Enlightenment’
By P Gosselin, No Tricks Zone, July 4, 2020https://notrickszone.com/2020/07/04/die-zeit-slams-science-dogmatism-the-delusion-of-total-controllability-relapse-into-pre-enlightenment/embed/#?secret=94cCRy3OFb
“A German weekly ‘Die Zeit’ commentary criticizes the hostility directed at skeptical climatologists and epidemiologists.
“’Where do we end up if a scientist’s degree of alarm becomes a litmus test for his scientific respectability?’ Science activism represents ‘relapse into pre-enlightened thinking’.”
Deniers’ of the World, Unite!
By Clarice Feldman, The Pipeline, July 8, 2020 [H/t WUWT]
Defending the Orthodoxy
WMO: World Could Hit 1.5C Global Warming by 2024
By Eric Worrall, WUWT, July 9, 2020https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/07/09/wmo-world-could-hit-1-5c-global-warming-by-2024/embed/#?secret=8QPThFkOPl
Link to announcement: New climate predictions assess global temperatures in coming five years
The annual mean global temperature is likely to be at least 1° Celsius above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900) in each of the coming five years (2020-2024) and there is a 20% chance that it will exceed 1.5°C in at least one year, according to new climate predictions issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
By Staff, WMO, July 9, 2020
Link to modeling centers: The Lead Centre for Annual-to-Decadal Climate Prediction collects and provides hindcasts, forecasts and verification data from a number of contributing centres worldwide.
By Staff, Lead Centre for Annual-to-Decadal Climate Prediction, Accessed July 10, 2020
Link to pdf: Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update
Target years: 2020 and 2020-2024
By Staff, WMO, Accessed July 10, 2020
“It is unlikely (~20% chance) that one of the next 5 years will be at least 1.5°C warmer than preindustrial levels, but the chance is increasing with time.”
[SEPP Comment: No centers in Africa & South America. NCAR, GFDL & NRL are identified as US centers.]]
By 2025, carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere will be higher than at any time in the last 3.3 million years
News Release by University of Southampton, July 10, 2020 [H/t Bernie Kepshire]
Link to paper: Atmospheric CO2 during the Mid-Piacenzian Warm Period and the M2 glaciation
By Elwyn de la Vega, et al. Scientific Reports, July 9, 2020
Opening statement of news release: “By 2025, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels will very likely be higher than they were during the warmest period of the last 3.3 million years,…”
[SEPP Comment: The early part of the Holocene was warmer than today, which is ignored in the news release. In discussing research of zooplankton, the news release states: “The isotopic composition of the boron in their shells is dependent on the acidity (the pH) of the seawater in which the forams lived.” Questionable! The oceans are alkaline, with exceptions over volcanic vents! The paper failed to identify the exact pH and there is no reason to assume it was below 7, making it acidic.]
CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere nearing levels of 15m years ago
Last time CO2 was at similar level temperatures were 3C to 4C hotter and sea levels were 20 metres higher
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, July 9, 2020 [H/t Bernie Kepshire]
Link to paper: Atmospheric CO2 during the Mid-Piacenzian Warm Period and the M2 glaciation
By Elwyn de la Vega, et al., Nature, Science, July 9, 2020
[SEPP Comment: See essay by Middleton, under Challenging the Orthodoxy.]
Coronavirus: Tracking how the world’s ‘green recovery’ plans aim to cut emissions
By Multiple Authors, Carbon Brief, June 16, 2020https://www.carbonbrief.org/coronavirus-tracking-how-the-worlds-green-recovery-plans-aim-to-cut-emissions/embed#?secret=ezfgJZY8uD
Managing expectations: climate action not a quick fix
By Marlowe Hood, Paris (AFP), July 8, 2020
No link to paper, unable to find paper in search of lead author’s name in Nature Communications
Questioning the Orthodoxy
No Need To Panic: Leading Scientists See Little Global Warming In The Works – Due To “Natural Variability”
By P Gosselin, No Tricks Zone, July 5, 2020https://notrickszone.com/2020/07/05/no-need-to-panic-leading-scientists-see-little-global-warming-in-the-works-due-to-natural-variability/embed/#?secret=nt6hWmvCxr
A Historian Looks at Climate Change
By John Robson, Climate Discussion Nexus, July 7, 2020
10 fallacies about Arctic sea ice & polar bear survival refute misleading ‘facts’
By Susan Crockford, Polar Bear Science, July 8, 202010 fallacies about Arctic sea ice & polar bear survival refute misleading ‘facts’
Shellenberger’s Apostasies Episode 1: Wildfire Trends
By John Robson, Climate Discussion Nexus, July 8, 2020
The West v The Rest Reposted
By Paul Homewood, Not a Lot of People Know That, July 7, 2020The West v The Rest Reposted
Link to: The West vs. the Rest
How developing countries took control of climate negotiations and what that means for emission reduction.
By Robin Guenier, His Post, June 29, 2020
Change in US Administrations
Trump Administration Formally Notifies U.N. of Withdrawal From World Health Organization
By Mathew Lee, AP, July 7, 2020 [H/t WUWT]
“’Withdrawing from the World Health Organization amidst an unprecedented global pandemic is an astounding action that puts the safety of all Americans and the world at risk. The U.S. should use its influence to strengthen and reform the WHO, not abandon it at a time when the world needs it most,’ ONE president Gayle Smith said.”
[SEPP Comment: Continue with incompetence?]
Social Benefits of Carbon Dioxide
Flawed Models: New Studies Find Plants Take Up “More Than Twice As Much” CO2 Than Expected
By Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt at Die kalte Sonne, (Translated by P. Gosselin), No Tricks Zone, July 7, 2020https://notrickszone.com/2020/07/07/flawed-models-new-studies-find-plants-take-up-more-than-twice-as-much-co2-than-expected/embed/#?secret=D7QxGvqLbz
Problems in the Orthodoxy
Latest U.N. sustainability goals pose more harm than good for environment, scientists warn
News Release, by University of Queensland, July 6, 2020
Link to paper: Environmental destruction not avoided with the Sustainable Development Goals
By Yiwen Zeng, Nature Sustainability, June 29, 2020
From the abstract: “The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were designed to reconcile environmental protection with socioeconomic development. Here, we compare SDG indicators to a suite of external measures, showing that while most countries are progressing well towards environmental SDGs, this has little relationship with actual biodiversity conservation, and instead better represents socioeconomic development. If this continues, the SDGs will likely serve as a smokescreen for further environmental destruction throughout the decade.”
Seeking a Common Ground
Global CO2 emissions in 2019
By Staff, EIA, Feb 11, 2020
Model suggests it could take decades for planet to start cooling after emissions are reduced
By Bob Yirka, Phys.org, July 8, 2020
Link to paper: Delayed emergence of a global temperature response after emission mitigation
By B. H. Samset, J. S. Fuglestvedt and M. T. Lund, Nature Communications, July 7, 2020
[SEPP Comment: Will we then have runaway glaciation?]
Science, Policy, and Evidence
Coronavirus: COVID Deaths In U.S. By Age, Race
By Alex Berezow, ACSH, June 23, 2020
Coronavirus: Why everyone was wrong
The immune response to the virus is stronger than everyone thought
By Beda M Stadler, Medium, July 1, 2020 [H/t Bernie Kepshire]
“Other than that I recommend reading John P A Ioannidis’ latest work in which he describes the global situation based on data on May 1st 2020: People [in age groups] below 65 years old make up only 0.6 to 2.6 % of all fatal Covid cases. To get on top of the pandemic, we need a strategy merely concentrating on the protection of at-risk people over 65.”
[SEPP Comment: In the US, those under 65 total 7.4% of COVID-19 deaths. Those under 55 total 2.5% of COVID-19 deaths.]
Air Conditioning Can Help Fight COVID-19—If Federal Policy Allows It To
By Ben Lieberman, CEI, July 2, 2020
Bushfire Royal Commission: Climate Change has “Gone Nuclear”
By Eric Worrall, WUWT, July 6, 2020https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/07/06/bushfire-royal-commission-climate-change-has-gone-nuclear/embed/#?secret=NDelUpn6ea
Review of Recent Scientific Articles by CO2 Science
Exploration of Temperature-related Human Mortality in China
Zhang, Y., Wang, S., Zhang, X., Hu, Q. and Zheng, C. 2020. Association between moderately cold temperature and mortality in China. Environmental Science and Pollution Research doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-08960-5. July 10, 2020
“Thus, given the above, it is clear that cold weather is far more deadly (AMF [attributable mortality fractions] value is nine times greater in this study) and of much greater concern to human health than warm weather.”
Three Decades of Vegetation Change on Banks Island, Canada
Campbell, T.K.F., Lantz, T.C., Fraser, R.H. and Hogan, D. 2020. High Arctic vegetation change mediated by hydrological conditions. Ecosystems doi.org/10.1007/s10021-020-00506-7. July 8, 2020
Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity is Over-estimated in a Key CMIP6 Model
Zhu, J., Poulsen, C.J. and Otto-Bliesner, B.L. 2020. High climate sensitivity in CMIP6 model not supported by paleoclimate. Nature Climate Change 10: 378-379. July 6, 2020
Models v. Observations
It’s worse than we thought
By John Robson, Climate Discussion Nexus, July 8, 2020
“In the real world of science, when you get a weird result, you try to make it go away. If you can’t, you have a discovery. But science proceeds less by verifying hypotheses than by falsifying them and keeping the ones that resist all efforts to crush them.”
Forecasting for COVID-19 has failed
By John P.A. Ioannidis, Sally Cripps, Martin A. Tanner, Not published, Accessed July 8, 2020
Climate Model Projections of 21st Century Global Warming Constrained Using the Observed Warming Trend
By Yongxiao Liang, et al. Geophysical Research Letters, June 22, 2020
[SEPP Comment: The models tested by Roy Spencer are not constrained! This paper uses the Global Surface Air Temperature (GSAT) of NASA-GISS, which shows significant warming where there are no instruments.]
How reliable are reconstructions and models for past temperature changes?
By Science China Press, Phys.org, July 6, 2020 [H/t Bernie Kepshire]
Link to paper: Evaluation of multidecadal and longer-term temperature changes since 850 CE based on Northern Hemisphere proxy-based reconstructions and model simulations
By Jianglin Wang, Science China Earth Sciences, May 14, 2020
From the Abstract: “However, covariances between different reconstructions or between reconstructions and simulations steadily decline as time series extends further back in time, becoming particularly small during Medieval times.””
Weather Forecasting is Fifty Years Ahead of Epidemiological Prediction: That Must Change
By Cliff Mass Weather Blog, July 4, 2020
[SEPP Comment: But solid weather forecasting is very short-term.]
Measurement Issues — Surface
Hottest Day recorded and deleted in Australia was 51.7 C in Bourke in 1909
If the day wasn’t digitized, does it exist?
By Jennifer Marohasy, Jo Nova’s Blog, July 11, 2020
Extreme heat and rain: Thousands of weather stations show there’s now more of both, for longer
By Jim Salinger, Lisa Alexander, The Conversation, July 6, 2020[H/t Bernie Kepshire]
“A major global update based on data from more than 36,000 weather stations around the world confirms that, as the planet continues to warm, extreme weather events such as heatwaves and heavy rainfall are now more frequent, more intense, and longer.”
[SEPP Comment: Add more weather stations and you get more recorded weather events!]
New Zealand Station Showed No Warming In 130 Years, Before Alterations To Show Warming
By Kirye and Pierre Gosselin, No Tricks Zone, July 8, 2020https://notrickszone.com/2020/07/08/new-zealand-shows-no-warming-in-130-years-despite-tricks-to-show-warming/embed/#?secret=O1UICMsbxD
New Study finds no evidence of a ‘signal of human-caused climate change’ from weather extremes
By Paul Homewood, Not a Lot of People Know That, July 9, 2020
Paper by Roger Pielke Jr.
Watching the Three Gorges Dam
By Jo Nova, Her Blog, July 8, 2020
Covid-19, Floods and Bank Runs: China Braces As Heavy Rainfall Stresses Water Management Infrastructure
By Eric Worrall, WUWT, July 9, 2020
Death Valley high temperature record of July 10, 1913
Guest post by Paul Dorian, Perspecta Weather, Via WUWT, July 10, 2020
July 10, 1936
By Tony Heller, His Blog, July 10, 2020
1919 or 2019? Vancouver Edition
By John Robson, Climate Discussion Nexus, July 8, 2020
Scientists discover new ‘human fingerprint’ on global drought patterns
By Daisy Dunne, Carbon Brief, July 6, 2020
Link to paper: Human influence on joint changes in temperature, rainfall and continental aridity
By Céline J. W. Bonfils, et al. Nature Climate Change, July 6, 2020
Oh that’s deep
By John Robson, Climate Discussion Nexus, July 8, 2020
Link to Press Release: New international sea level satellite completes testing
By Staff, Sea Level News, NASA, June 11, 2020
“‘We’re changing our climate, and the clearest signal of that is the rising oceans,’ said Josh Willis, the mission’s project scientist at JPL. ‘More than 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases is going into the ocean.’”
[SEPP Comment: Much of that heat is not appearing in the atmosphere where the greenhouse gases do their “trapping.” How does it go from being “trapped” in the atmosphere into the oceans without a trace?]
Schooled: Warmth-Sensitive Fish Teach Us They Swam In A 4-5°C Warmer Ocean About 5000 Years Ago
By Kenneth Richard, No Tricks Zone, July 6, 2020https://notrickszone.com/2020/07/06/schooled-warmth-sensitive-fish-teach-us-they-swam-in-a-4-5c-warmer-ocean-about-5000-years-ago/embed/#?secret=fjOlUxo1pQ
Link to one paper: Predicting habitat use by the Argentine hake Merluccius hubbsi in a warmer world: inferences from the Middle Holocene
By Maria Bas, et al. Oecologia, May 18, 2020
First direct evidence of ocean mixing across the gulf stream
University of Maryland researcher discovers important ocean blender effect that may influence climate and fisheries from Florida to Newfoundland
News Release, University of Maryland, July 6, 2020 [H/t WUWT]
Link to paper: Enhanced mixing across the gyre boundary at the Gulf Stream front,
By Jacob O. Wenegrat, et al. PNAS, July 10, 2020
A ‘regime shift’ is happening in the Arctic Ocean, scientists say
News Release by Stanford University, July 9, 2020 [H/t Bernie Kepshire]
Link to paper: Changes in phytoplankton concentration now drive increased Arctic Ocean primary production
By Lewis, van Kijken, and Arrigo, Science, July 10, 2020
Link to second paper: Climate change tweaks Arctic marine ecosystems
By Marcel Babin, Science, July 10, 2020
[SEPP Comment: Note the questionable term “regime shift” in the news release is not supported in the papers.]
A “Good” Proxy on the Antarctic Peninsula?
By Stephen McIntyre, Climate Audit, July 8, 2020A “Good” Proxy on the Antarctic Peninsula?
Hudson Bay sea ice cover at early summer 2020 is similar to the 1980s
By Susan Crockford, Polar Bear Science, July 6, 2020Hudson Bay sea ice cover at early summer 2020 is similar to the 1980s
[SEPP Comment: Do not expect polar bears to die out anytime soon. They survived the Holocene warm period, 9,000 to 4,000 years ago, warmer than today. See link immediately above.]
Climate change may cause extreme waves in Arctic
News Release by American Geophysical Union, July 7, 2020 [H/t Bernie Kepshire]
Link to paper: Projections of extreme ocean waves in the Arctic and potential implications for coastal inundation and erosion
By Mercé Casas‐Prat & Xiaolan L. Wang, JGR Oceans, July 7, 2020
‘Increased waves could also increase the speed of ice breakup. The loss of ice due to waves could affect animals like polar bears which hunt seals on polar ice as well as a number of other creatures that rely on ice. It could also affect shipping routes in the future.’ [Boldface added]
[SEPP Comment: Protect future Arctic shipping lanes created by global warming from global warming?]
Geologists identify deep-earth structures that may signal hidden metal lodes
By Staff Writers, New York NY (SPX), Jul 03, 2020
Link to paper: Global distribution of sediment-hosted metals controlled by craton edge stability
By Mark Hoggard, Nature Geoscience, June 29, 2020
Ocean acidification and human health
News Release by Norwegian Institute for Water Research, July 9, 2020
Agriculture Issues & Fear of Famine
Record-High World Grain Production for Second Year in a Row
By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming, June 8, 2020 [H/t GWPF]
Met Office Insist Their “Record Rainfall” Claim Is Justified- But Their Own Evidence Shows This To Be Untrue
By Paul Homewood, Not a Lot of People Know That, July 9, 2020Met Office Insist Their “Record Rainfall” Claim Is Justified- But Their Own Evidence Shows This To Be Untrue
“To sum up, the Met Office have ignored incontrovertible evidence that more rain fell in Somerset in 1917, on the basis that Bruton was not formally included in their official network of observing stations.
“Yet they are keen to declare a new record at Honister, which is not only not a totally unsuitable site with just a few years of actual data, but also just happens to be not part of their official network of observing stations. [Italics in original]
“Their hypocrisy and mendacity is astonishing.”
Every Day Brings Another New Low For American Journalism
By Francis Menton, Manhattan Contrarian, July 6, 2020
Time: Covid Economic Contraction “just in time” to Delay the Climate Crisis
By Eric Worrall, WUWT, July 10, 2020https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/07/10/time-covid-economic-contraction-just-in-time-to-delay-the-climate-crisis/embed/#?secret=LoinqxWCBO
Climate economics Nobel may do more harm than good
By Marlowe Hood, Phys.org, July 6, 2020 [H/t Bernie Kepshire]
How Climate Trickery Infiltrated the AGU
By Donna Laframboise, Big Picture News, July 6, 2020
Communicating Better to the Public – Use Yellow (Green) Journalism?
BBC Worry That 1.5C Target Might Be Breached
By Paul Homewood, Not a Lot of People Know That, July 9, 2020
More extreme weather events with planetary warming–Met Office
By Paul Homewood, Not a Lot of People Know That, July 10, 2020
“In other words, ‘extreme weather events are not increasing’. There may be more heatwaves, but equally there will be fewer extreme cold spells.”
VOX: “We Could Quickly Get Used to Climate Chaos”
By Eric Worrall, WUWT, July 8, 2020
[SEPP Comment: The term de jour, “Climate Chaos”? Actually, the climate is chaotic, So humanity cannot stop it. And the politicians can stop blowing in the wind.]
Guest post: How ‘discourses of delay’ are used to slow climate action
By William Lamb, Climate Brief, July 6, 2020
Link to paper: Discourses of climate delay
By William Lamb, Global Sustainability, July 1, 2020
Link to: Global Warming & Climate Change Myths
By Staff, Skeptical Science, Getting skeptical about global warming skepticism, Accessed July 10, 2020
[SEPP Comment: The list of “myths” is edited by John Cook, who led the team that published the latest highly biased survey falsely claiming that 97% of scientists… A myth.]
“In Climate Debate, Exaggeration Is a Pitfall” ( NYT article revisited)
By Robert Bradley Jr. Master Resource, July 8, 2020
Communicating Better to the Public – Make things up.
Texas will face driest conditions of the last 1,000 years
By Keith Randall, Texas A&M University, July 8, 2020 [H/t Bernie Kepshire]
Link to paper: Unprecedented drought challenges for Texas water resources in a changing climate: what do researchers and stakeholders need to know?
By John W. Nielsen‐Gammon, et al., Earth’s Future, AGU, June 29, 2020
Link to: Drought in Texas, 200-2020
By Staff, from US Drought Monitor, Accessed July 8, 2020 [H/t Gordon Fulks]
[SEPP Comment: Texas A&M professors cannot get away from their computer models long enough to look at actual Texas drought data?]
Junk Journalism: NYT’s Claim “More Torrential Rains” In Japan Takes A Bath, No Basis
By P Gosselin, No Tricks Zone, July 10, 2020
Communicating Better to the Public – Use Children for Propaganda
The ‘teenage God of global warming’ feeling sudden lack of relevance
Video, Sky News, Australia, June 29, 2020 [H/t GWPF]
[SEPP Comment: Questions computer models. The modeling of COVID-19 and global warming are far off! Modeling has skepticism and alarmism.]
Expanding the Orthodoxy
Major Seattle Arena Renamed To Honor Paris Climate Accord
By Jack Davis, The Western Journal, July 4, 2020
Profiting from Purpose
By Rupert Darwall, National Review, July 7, 2020
Questioning European Green
‘Green New Deals’ Are Detrimental to Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery
By Bjorn Lomborg, Inside Sources, July 6, 2020
Energy Consumers To Pay For £25bn Green Energy Plan
By Paul Homewood, Not a Lot of People Know That, July 10, 2020
“What is certain though is that this £25 billion is loose change, compared to the eventual cost to be placed on consumers. By doing it piecemeal in this way, OFGEM is hoping that nobody will notice the true impact on their energy bills.”
Covid-19 derails Germany’s EU presidency climate focus
By Jess Smee, Euobserver, June 30, 2020 [H/t GWPF]
Questioning Green Elsewhere
The First Green Energy War?
By Staff, The Times, Via GWPF, July 9, 2020
“It [Egypt]fears its water supplies will be depleted, in part through evaporation from the reservoir,”
[SEPP Comment: The evaporation argument was used by greens opposing the 1960s Aswan High Dam in Egypt.]
The Political Games Continue
House Select Committee Climate Report A Pre-COVID-19 Time Capsule
By Ben Lieberman, CEI, July 8, 2020
House “Climate Crisis Committee” issues massive meaningless wish list
By David Wojick, CFACT, July 7, 2020
Sanders-Biden climate task force calls for carbon-free power by 2035
By Rachel Franzin, The Hill, July 8, 2020
The law that could make climate change illegal
By Jocelyn Timperley, BBC, Future Planet, July 7, 2020
[SEPP Comment: Believing Milankovitch cycles should be illegal?]
Stanford prof ordered to pay legal fees after dropping $10 million defamation case against another scientist
By Staff, Retraction Watch, July 9, 2020
Federal Judge Orders Shutdown Of Dakota Access Pipeline, Citing Need For Environmental Review
By Chris White, Daily Caller, July 6, 2020 [H/t WUWT]
Supreme Court reinstates fast-track pipeline permitting except for Keystone XL
By Rachel Frazin, The Hill, July 6, 2020
Cap-and-Trade and Carbon Taxes
Boris Johnson Warned That Tone Deaf Carbon Taxes Risk ‘Poll Tax’ Fiasco
By Staff, GWPF, July 7, 2020
“In spite of its name the Zero Carbon Commission is not an official body. Its membership includes John Sauven, the Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, Georgia Berry the communications Director of OVO, the UK’s second largest electricity and gas retailer,…”]
Subsidies and Mandates Forever
US push to ease global energy controls as it hands fossil fuels $3bn
Trump’s energy secretary Dan Brouillette promotes ‘all fuels’ free-market strategy at climate and sustainability summit
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, July 9, 2020 [H/t Bernie Kepshire]
Link to conference announcement: IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit, July 9, 2020
By Staff, EIA, Accessed July 10, 2020
“Over 5,600 fossil fuel companies have taken at least $3bn in US Covid-19 aid.”
[SEPP Comment: Why should COVID-19 subsidies be an issue with EIA?]
Energy Issues – Non-US
IEA Special Report on Clean Energy Innovation
Guest post by Roger Caiazza, WUWT, July 8, 2020https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/07/08/iea-special-report-on-clean-energy-innovation/embed/#?secret=q4xn1VN4Ue
Link to report: Energy Technology Perspectives 2020 – Special Report on Clean Energy Innovation
Accelerating technology progress for a sustainable future
By Staff, EIA, July 2, 2020
Is Britain’s Energy Regulator a Consumer Champion or a Green Industry Patsy?
By John Constable, GWPF, July 8, 2020
British Steel made with Russian coal leaves North East miners jobless
ENGLAND’S last surface coal mine closes next month at Bradley, County Durham. Last week, a request to extend the open cast mine was rejected by Durham County councillors.
By Dim Newark, Express, UK, July 10, 2020
DOMINIC LAWSON: What has ‘builder’ Boris got against the miners of Northumberland?
By Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail, UK, July 5, 2020
Energy Issues — US
What Berkshire Hathaway’s Big Gas Pipeline Buy Tells You
By Erik Sherman, Forbes, July 6, 2020
Post-Pandemic, a Sustained, Essential Recovery Will Depend on Energy
By David Holt, Real Clear Energy, July 6, 2020
“Recent research from the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute – written by a former economic adviser to President Obama – found that “the installation of renewables are frequently paired with the construction of natural gas ‘peaker’ plants that can quickly and relatively inexpensively cycle up and down, depending on the availability of the intermittent resource,” which is usually solar or wind. Something has to make up the shortfall.”
[SEPP Comment: ‘Peaker’ plants use natural gas inefficiently. Building Combined Cycle Plants without renewables is more efficient and less costly than renewables with peaker plants.]
Duke Energy to provide solar access to customers while lowering bills over time
By Staff Writers, St. Petersburg FL (SPX), Jul 03, 2020
[SEPP Comment: Will the bills to all customers go down?]
Time to Make Net Metering a Net Positive
By Jakob Puckett, Real Clear Energy, July 09, 2020
“Utilities then pass that extra cost onto non-net metering customers. According to research from the Brookings Institute, net metering customers who zero out their electric bill pass on an average $45 to $70 per month in costs for using the electric grid but not paying for it.”
[SEPP Comment: Then wait for the other customers to revolt!]
Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Solar and Wind
The excess costs of Weather Dependent Renewable power generation in the EU(28): 2020
By Ed Hoskins, edhmdotme, Accessed July 8, 2020 [H/t WUWT]
Energy Production And Consumption: The Seen And The Unseen
By Francis Menton, Manhattan Contrarian, July 9, 2020
“A chart in the Introduction [of BP ‘Statistical Review of World Energy’] shows an increase of 3.2% in wind and solar output, but that only increased their market share by 0.5% to 5% of primary energy production.”
Report renewable energy risks, too
If fossil fuel companies should disclose climate-related financial risks, so should renewables
By Paul Driessen, WUWT, July 9, 2020
Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Energy — Other
John Constable: Why Europe’s ‘Green’ Hydrogen Hype Is Likely To Flop
By John Constable, GWPF, July 8, 2020
Link to paper: HYDROGEN: The once and future fuel?
By John Constable, GWPF, 2020
A Hydrogen Future? Some Basic Facts
By Paul Homewood, Not a Lot of People Know That, July 5, 2020
Europe’s Green Hydrogen Revolution Is Turning Blue
With the EU on the cusp of announcing its long-term hydrogen strategy, a huge question remains: Should blue hydrogen be excluded?
By John Parnell, GTM, July 1, 2020
It’s another gas
By John Robson, Climate Discussion Nexus, July 8, 2020
“Poor hydrogen power. It’s been the fuel of the future since 1838 and never quite seems to arrive.”
Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Vehicles
Clean energy grids and electric vehicles key to beating climate change and air pollution
News Release by Institute of Physics, July 7, 2020 [H/t Bernie Kepshire]
Link to paper did not work
“Our results highlight the importance of continually cleaning and decarbonizing electricity grids, such as with increased amounts of renewable energy technologies and nuclear power, as well as improving vehicle efficiency.”
Cars Trump Mass Transit, Pandemic Aside (O’Toole’s Cato Study Contribution)
By Robert Bradley Jr., Master Resource, July 9, 2020
Health, Energy, and Climate
How patients lose out: When politics cancel science
By Bill Cassidy, M.D. World News Daily, July 4, 2020
“Obesity, hypertension and diabetes – 40% to 60% more common among African Americans than non-Hispanic whites – increase risk for COVID-19 complications.”
Observed Decrease in U.S. Child Mortality During the COVID-19 Lockdown of 2020
By Roy Spencer, His Blog, July 10, 2020
The ‘Physicks’ Of COVID-19
By Chuck Dinerstein, ACSH, July 1, 20202
Against Environmental Pessimism
Doomsday thinking about the environment has been popular for decades. A rational optimist lays out the many reasons we can be hopeful about the future of the planet.
By Matt Ridley, PERC, July 6, 2020
BELOW THE BOTTOM LINE:
New Video: Making Climate Change Illegal
By Tony Heller, His Blog, July 9, 2020
Law in Denmark
Remember when we were told: “The Arctic Is On Fire, and We Should all Be Terrified”? It’s SNOWING there now.
By Anthony Watts, WUWT, July 7, 2020
Waak waak waak
By John Robson, Climate Discussion Nexus, July 8, 2020
1. After the WHO Withdrawal
If the agency can’t be reformed, the world needs an alternative.
Editorial, WSJ, July 8, 2020
TWTW Summary: The editorial states:
We can’t blame President Trump for moving to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO). The agency’s failures during the Covid-19 pandemic deserve a response beyond rote condemnation, but sending notice also isn’t enough.
The State Department informed the United Nations on July 6 that the U.S. will withdraw from the agency in July 2021. Mr. Trump has said the more than $400 million a year spent on WHO will go to other public-health needs but has provided no details.
“Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health,” Joe Biden tweeted Tuesday. “On my first day as President, I will rejoin the @WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage.” The global leadership line is a canard. Membership isn’t the same as leadership, especially when international institutions like WHO undermine their biggest financial supporter.[Boldface added]
That certainly has been the case during the pandemic. While WHO officials privately fretted about China’s secrecy, the agency publicly praised the Communist regime’s handling of the outbreak and deceived the world about Beijing’s supposed commitment to transparency. WHO’s often contradictory public-health messaging, combined with fealty to China, has undermined its role as an impartial arbiter of global health information.
The problem with Mr. Trump’s announcement is that there is no sign of a plan to follow up. Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican, warned that leaving WHO may “interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines.” The President hasn’t explicitly demanded Americans stop working on vaccines with WHO, and the Administration should make clear the work can continue.
The next step is for Mr. Trump or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to outline conditions for the U.S. to rejoin. Most important are guidelines to ensure the independence of the Covid-19 inquiry agreed to in May. Washington will have to act swiftly, as WHO is sending a team to China this week to investigate the origins of the virus. The U.S. also should call on members to narrow the agency’s focus, create clearer rules for declaring a pandemic, and limit the director-general’s powers. [Boldface added]
If WHO can’t be fixed, the White House should support the creation of an alternative, perhaps privately run, pandemic-response agency. It won’t attract comprehensive membership like WHO, but what’s the point of Chinese support if Beijing’s influence means the agency can’t be trusted?
The editorial concludes by stating multilateral institutions have become self-sustaining bureaucracies without accountability.
2. ‘The Sirens of Mars’ Review: A Planetary Attraction
Early observers dreamed up canal-building civilizations on Mars, inspiring science-ﬁction writers. The search for life there goes on.
By John Miller, WSJ, July 6, 2020
TWTW Summary: After a lengthy introduction to the author and her previous discoveries of life on earth the reviewer states:
Instead of pursuing the study of death, Ms. Johnson took up the quest for extraterrestrial life, in a field sometimes called “exobiology.” Her ambitious goal is to find evidence of life on Mars and solve “the enigma of a neighboring world.” As she displays the love of discovery that drives so much scientific inquiry, it’s easy to cheer her on.
The cruel irony for exobiologists, however, is that for all of their pluck and determination, they still haven’t found what they’re looking for on the solar system’s second-smallest planet—and they probably won’t. There are no little green ferns on Mars, let alone little green men. Millions of bacteria can thrive in a pinch of Earth’s soil, but it’s starting to appear as if not a single one inhabits Mars. “The Sirens of Mars” is an elegy, though its author may be too hopeful to realize it.
Ms. Johnson acknowledges that the fourth rock from the sun is a “cold, hard, desolate world.” You wouldn’t want to live there, and it isn’t even a nice place to visit. Dry as a desert and drenched in radiation, it’s a harsh and hostile place that thwarts orbiters and landers. “Half the missions to Mars have failed,” she writes.
Her book describes the planet’s progression in the human mind from a rosy twinkle in the night sky to a mysterious world watched through telescopes. Some of its early observers dreamed up canal-building civilizations. They powered the imaginations of early science-fiction writers, such as H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Percival Lowell—a pioneering turn-of-the-century astronomer and the namesake of the Lowell Observatory in Arizona—theorized about a society led by “a group of benevolent oligarchs.” In 1924, reports Ms. Johnson, the astronomer David Peck Todd persuaded the U.S. military to cease all radio communication for two days so that he could listen for Martian transmissions. [Boldface added]
He heard nothing. Since then, the hunt has slipped into a cycle of diminishing returns. As the absence of intelligent life became obvious, the speculators demoted Mars to a “vegetated world” of plants. The truth hit hard when Mariner 4 flew by Mars in 1965 and snapped the first close-up photos of its sterile surface: “Exobiologists [were] as stunned as the rest of the world,” Ms. Johnson writes. “Suddenly it seemed like they might be wasting their time.”
Yet they kept probing. In 1996, they touted a “nanobacteria fossil” found in a Martian meteorite, a rock formed on Mars but ejected into space and hurled to Earth after a violent impact. President Clinton hailed it as potentially “one of the most stunning insights into our universe that science has ever uncovered.” Scientists soon rejected the idea, making this too a time-wasting tease.
By the 21st century, the exobiologists had suffered through a long slog of disappointment. When the Curiosity rover found organic molecules in Martian clay a few years ago, it marked an important development—these are the building blocks of life, after all—but also an example of how an invigorating exploration for actual life had been downgraded into a humdrum search for the merest hints of it.
Ms. Johnson remains upbeat: Life, she writes, is “stunningly resilient.” Maybe it lies buried beneath the Martian soil, where we haven’t found it yet. Conceivably it could arise from “an entirely different molecular foundation.” She likens this notion to “trying to imagine a color we’ve never seen”—and when she does, her yearning for signs of life starts to feel more like fantasy than science. What might be a cautionary tale becomes for her an opportunity to wax lyrical about “an almost existential endeavor to confront our own limitations, to learn what life really is, and ultimately to defy our own isolation in the universe.”
Great advances can spring from apparent defeat, of course. Perhaps the Mars Perseverance rover, scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral in a few weeks, will enjoy better luck. At some point, however, we may want to admit that the red planet is a dead planet—and that the search for life on Mars is a siren song.
TWTW Comment: At least NASA is not justifying a mission to Mars on the claim it may find an advanced civilization there, ignoring the physical evidence. NASA’s claims should be based on physical evidence, not model speculation such as used by NASA-GISS.